Yes, it is raw and loosely-formed. But the genius reveals itself behind the simple kidnapping plot: the subtlety of emotion packed into the dense action sequences is overwhelming. It's right there next to 'Funny Games' and 'Novecento' in terms of drama.
As to racism: that time period was not enlightened, indeed. But somehow Griffith's French counterparts managed to make films without resorting to stereotype, so, ugh.